A huge shift to digital channels along with the huge need to create personalised experiences has completely transformed the way companies engage with customers
By Prasenjit Roy
The Covid-19 pandemic is a once in a lifetime event, and has changed the dynamics of every industry and function. The marketing function too has to adapt quickly to this new normal. A huge shift to digital channels along with the huge need to create personalised experiences has completely transformed the way companies engage with customers.
Here is our take on the top five essential marketing trends for 2021:
#AI will play a pivotal role in automation
Customer experience is key to success today and this resonates across brands in different sectors. Automation can play a huge role in creating personalised interactions for customers, which can lead to better conversion rates. AI-enabled automation can also help in automating processes such as lead scoring, anomaly detection, marketing performance management and reporting. This is corroborated by research firm, Gartner, which states that AI embedded in analytics and other marketing software will free up more than a third of data analysts in marketing organisations by 2022. AI can also help in creating a sales pipeline by identifying and scoring leads based on specific criteria. This can help the sales team identify which sales lead is worth pursuing. Similarly, AI can help in running specific campaigns at specific time periods for specific clusters of people, which can lead to better results than what is typically achieved using traditional methods.
# Marketing will be more interactive
Rather than passive marketing, 2021 will see marketing being more interactive. Marketers will look at infusing interactive elements that help the customer in making a better choice. For example, in the post Covid-19 world, marketers will look at using technologies like AR or VR to help customers visualise the product in a better way. For example, consider placing furniture inside your room using an AR app to visualise how a particular sofa set would look in your living room. Similarly, imagine trying out a t-shirt or a saree to visualise how it would look on you. As the world gets used to a contactless world, interactive immersive experiences will be the future. This is corroborated by Gartner which has recently predicted that by 2023, 60% of businesses that pivoted to virtual events will incorporate real-time/real-space experiential elements into marketing experiences.
# The rise of omni-channel marketing
While customers increasingly prefer online mediums today, it may or may not be the case in the future. Some customers may still prefer physical stores. The blending of the physical and digital worlds can create some wonderful experiences. Marketers must take into account customer preferences, and create experiences that reflect the best of both worlds. Consider the example of Amazon Go. This is a physical store where you can just enter the store, pick up the goods you want, and you will be automatically mailed a receipt once you walk out of the store. This works with the Amazon Go application, and the store uses technologies such as AI-enabled computer vision and IoT to gauge which products have been picked up from the shelves. In some cases, a customer interaction that has started in one channel may end up as a closed transaction in another channel. Hence, it is important for marketers to have a 360 degree view of the customer across all channels.
Personalising the product or service to the specific individual can have a great impact. Today, technologies such as AI and predictive analytics can make this possible. AI-enabled algorithms can create different profiles of customers and accordingly create a perfect offer. For example, in an e-commerce store, if a buyer is looking for brown shoes, then he can be served a personalised page with only brown shoes and the specific brand that the buyer typically searches the site for. This can lead to faster discovery of the exact products that a prospective buyer wants, which in turn can lead to faster conversion, and more sales. The same customer segmentation or hyper personalisation can also be applied to send personalised e-mails. This makes it possible to create hundreds or thousands of variants in email campaigns that are suited to specific demographics and user preferences.
# Explore the power of voice
With the immense popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri, marketers need to optimise their marketing strategies and ad campaigns for voice. Content and websites have also to be redesigned according to voice. Gartner has predicted that companies who redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will see up to a 30 percent increase in digital commerce revenues by 2021. Similarly, Juniper Research has estimated that voice-based advertising spend could reach $19 billion by 2022.
The author is a senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer of NTT- Netmagic